HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE – Dead Revolution
San Francisco, California sextet Hammers of Misfortune has been a long-running favorite with a lot of journalists (myself included), as they have an organic nature to their proto-progressive metal sound. The type that feeds off of a churning twin rhythm backbone, soothing melodic vocals, and an energy that bursts forward from your speakers. "Dead Revolution" as the band’s sixth studio salvo (or seven depending on your views of "Fields"/ "Church of Broken Glass" being singular entities or a double record) continues that aural journey into older, longer arrangements that embody and encourage a lot of interplay.
The circus-like organ passages from Sigrid Sheie sit against this Priest/Maiden meets Thin Lizzy/ UFO guitar foundation of John Cobbett and Leila Abdul-Rauf to make "The Velvet Inquisition" a mid-tempo to slightly faster opening gallop-fest, one sure to attain a number of devil horns salutes. Steady cow-bell hits punctuate the riffs a la Blue Oyster Cult for the title cut as the multiple male/female vocal perspective helps deliver the lyrics in this twisted, alluring manner just like a lot of the 70’s greats (think a heavier Ian Anderson overall). The simplicity in many of the initial hooks captivates – Accept would be proud of the initial set of guitar riffs and tasteful groove for "Sea of Heroes"- placing a song like "Princess of the Dawn" in more of a Hammers of Misfortune context through the deep Hammond organ passages and equally eerie melodies that sit behind the musical proceedings.
Each and every time I take in a Hammers of Misfortune album, the spine-tingling feelings of discovery and adventure come rushing back. One minute I could key in on a particular guitar solo like the one in "The Precipice", the next minute entwine myself back into the old-school Irish cultural/doom swagger for "Days of ‘49". Drummer Will Carroll (also in Death Angel) showcases more of a traditional tempo control, but flexes his creativity in spots as far as speed and dexterity while maintaining that metal sheen.
Brilliant, breath-taking – another feather in the cap for the band, "Dead Revolution" leaves me hoping that we can continue to get more HoM material out a touch faster… 5 years is a long wait when the material is this exhilarating.